Whaler Kaz Yamazaki chats with teammate Zach Johns during warm-up Sept. 4. Yamazaki notched a hat trick against his former team, the Surrey Knights. | Photo courtesy of Alistair Burns, White Rock Whalers.
Whaler Kaz Yamazaki scores hat trick
CENTENNIAL ARENA – Thank goodness it was only pre-season. The Whalers skated hard for a 5-0 lead. But the Surrey Knights woke up and erased that five-goal deficit on Sept. 4.
With three-and-a-half minutes left, White Rock’s alternate captain, Chris Fortems, broke over the blueline on a 2-on-1. He faked a pass and snapped the puck past Surrey goalie Mason Upton for a 6-5 lead and the game-winner.
The veteran line of Fortems, “Big Goal” Cole Svendson and Jacob Dorohoy dominated the opening 40 minutes. Svendson lit the lamp twice – his second goal was an impressive backhand deke on a breakaway that squeaked through Upton’s pads.
Whaler Kaz Yamazaki, who started last season in White Rock and ended up in Surrey, got the last laugh against the Knights. His speed to outskate defenders to rebounds netted him a hat trick.
“Great to be with the boys…excited to see how this season’s going to go,” Yamazaki said. “Hopefully more points!”
The starting goalie for the Whalers, Adam Winters, made eight saves and looked comfortable during a period-and-a-half. Winters did not play often during last season’s run to the league final.
Coach Jason Rogers thought Winters was “pretty excited” to strap on the pads for real again. “I thought he was very good for us.”
Back-up Ty Angus faced a completely rejuvenated Knights squad in the third and withstood the storm. Rogers liked Angus’s positional play and performance in training camp.
No longer a cakewalk
In years past, the Knights have been near the bottom of the Pacific Junior Hockey League standings. Now, with former Whalers goalie Mason Upton between the pipes, Surrey will certainly provide ample competition in the regular season.
Sept. 6: Whalers at Ice Hawks
LADNER LEISURE CENTRE – The Pod ended their pre-season slate with a 5-4 loss in Delta. In the past three weeks, the Whalers notched a record of one win, two losses and a shoot-out victory.
Bitter rivalry renewed
This matchup between White Rock and Delta will be an intriguing one throughout the upcoming regular season.
Last season, the Whalers defeated the Ice Hawks in a six-game playoff series to capture the first Tom Shaw Conference championship for White Rock. However, the Ice Hawks went on to host the Cyclone Taylor Cup, the B.C. Jr. ‘B’ championship. They received silver medals as the provincial finalist.
What’s next for Pod: Final roster cuts
Meanwhile for the Whalers, Coach Rogers explained that the coaching staff will have to make some difficult decisions between now and Sept. 15 – when the Whalers open the new season on the road against the Surrey Knights.
“We’ll keep pretty much everybody we can until we have to make that opening day roster.”
Also, the Whalers will have to name a new captain. The former captain, Tyler Price, was not eligible to return this year due to his age.
POST GAME AUDIO with Coach Rogers & Kaz Yamazaki
When Whaler veterans "have been in the league and you've had success, that maybe you don't work as hard. We got a lesson in that tonight," Rogers said.
Live Audio with Coach Rogers
"First goal was on the powerplay, off a rebound, tapped it in. Second goal was on a 2-on-1, pass across the slot and just another tap-in," Yamazaki recalled.
Live Audio with Kaz Yamazaki
First: White Rock # 62 Cole Svendson
Second: Delta # 14 Alec Scouras
Third: Delta # 18 Dalton MacGillivray